Maybe the name had tipped them off. The Lily Lewis Unit. Named in honour of his grandmother—even though they hadn't been able to save her—because of the amount of money Jake had raised in her memory. Money that had bought vital equipment for the unit. Money that had saved people, the way he hadn't been able to save his grandmother.
He'd jumped out of planes—twice, once for his mum and once for his dad—and swum the equivalent of the English Channel. He'd abseiled down several buildings in London. Bungee-jumped from a bridge in New Zealand. Run marathons.
He couldn't think of a better way of using his spare time.
'This one's for you, Nan,' he whispered, as he stepped backwards into space.
And he ignored the fact that it was a pair of slate-blue eyes in his mind, not his grandmother's twinkling brown ones.
The following morning, Jake was going through his in-tray when he found an envelope. Handwriting he didn't recognise. Marked PERSONAL.
Odd. He slit the top of the envelope and shook out the contents. It was a cheque—a large cheque—from the account of V. C. Radley, made payable to the Lily Lewis Unit.
What on earth...?
He looked in the envelope again, but there was no note. Just the cheque.
Minimum fuss, like Vicky herself.
But she'd already signed his sponsorship form, given him a similar donation to those of the other senior staff. This didn't add up.
He slipped the cheque back into the envelope, put it in his jacket pocket, then went in search of her on the ward. 'Sorry for interrupting,' he said quietly to the patient she was talking to. 'Dr Radley, could I have a word in my office when you're free?'
'Of course, Mr Lewis.' Polite and neutral, just like he'd sounded.
Though inside he was fizzing. Just seeing her face drove his pulse up several notches. Oh, this was bad. He didn't do relationships. He was focused on his career and on fundraising. He didn't have space in his life for anybody. Especially someone who was so far out of his social league, she may as well be from another planet.
He forced himself to go steadily through his paperwork, but he found himself looking at the clock every few seconds. And it was another twenty minutes before she knocked on his office door.
'Take a seat,' he said, gesturing to the chair in front of his desk.
'What's the problem?' she asked as she sat down.
'You've already given me a cash donation. Why this?' He took the envelope from his jacket and waved it at her.
She shrugged. 'Why not?'
'Vicky, that's an awful lot of money.'
She was silent for a moment. Then she sighed. 'The grapevine must have told you by now about my family.'
'Well, yes,' he admitted.
'My father was a baron.'
Was, he noted. Past tense. So their discussion a few days ago... Maybe she'd been sympathetic because she'd been there herself, not just supported a friend through it.
'I inherited money from the estate when I was much, much younger—money that my trustees invested in property. Which means I don't have a mortgage, and as a senior registrar I'm on a decent salary.' She stood up again and pushed her chair back. 'So it's not the big gesture you think it is. I can afford it. And I'd rather give the money to a good cause that will make a real difference to someone's life than waste it going clubbing and ordering bottles of overpriced champagne to rack up the profits of some sleazy barman.'
Any second now she was going to walk through that door and things between them would be awkward to the point of screaming. He was making a real mess of this. 'I'm sorry,' he said quickly. 'I meant to say thank you—and I wanted to say it quietly and without embarrassing you, the same way you gave me this cheque. But I'm a bit overwhelmed. People don't usually give me donations this big—not unless they've lost someone, too.' Was that it? Had her father died from a stroke, which was why she'd specialised in neurology?
She didn't meet his eye. 'Consider your thanks accepted.'
'Vicky.' He couldn't leave it like this between them. 'Can I take you out to dinner?'
She thought he was trying to come on to her. Well, he was. And he wasn't. 'I meant, in friendship. As a way of saying thank you for your support. I'm not trying to talk you into a date.' Ha. Not much. He hadn't been able stop thinking about her since he'd met her, and he was getting close to the point of breaking all his personal rules and asking her out for real.
'I'd rather you took the money you'd spend on a meal and added it to the fund.'
OK. So she didn't want dinner. She was probably used to being wined and dined in all the best restaurants in London. Places where you had to have a name to get a table, or book up about a year in advance. Places where dinner for two would cost a week's wages for the average person.
So maybe he should offer her something different. 'OK. How about next time we both have a day off, you let me take you somewhere out of London?'